From west to east, here are our picks for Canada’s top 10 wildest, woolliest, gotta-do-it-now adventures:
Cruise misty Haida Gwaii, BC
It’s a rare trip that traces a spiritual civilization at Haida Gwaii. Pass by moss-smothered totem poles, and dip in natural hot springs and old-growth forests. We love this nine-day, mystical affair onboard the Island Roamer,which cuts through the sacred heart of Canada’s remote Haida villages. www.bluewateradventures.ca
Horseback ride into Skoki Lodge, AB
Rising to 3,000 m (9,800 ft), the snow-kissed Rockies fold like a crumpled blanket from the backside of Lake Louise to Skoki Lodge. An 11-km (6.8-mi) trek past glaciated peaks, over two alpine passes and along an enchanted valley floor has drawn hikers, climbers and skiers to the historic Skoki Valley since the ’30s. Hoof it by horseback with Timberline Tours, and you’ll feel the tug of Wild Bill Peyto, Mary Schaffer and a posse of other pioneers.
It’s all about the journey to Forest House, SK
If your ideal wilderness getaway involves a float plane or a short paddle (and a teenie portage), fresh-from-the-garden grub and a main lodge with two separate cabins on an unnamed lake in northern Saskatchewan, have we got a trip for you. At Forest House in the McLennan Lake area, guests can canoe through a series of enchanting lakes, putter in a massive organic garden and end each day by roasting s’mores under a tarp of Northern Lights.
Track wildlife with the Caribou to Wolves Ecotour, MB
This is the kind of trip that hard-charging, adrenalin-seeking guides all want to lead. Who could blame them for wanting to fly and hike over chunks of Arctic wilderness—home to wolves, caribou, moose, bears (black, grizzly and polar), fox, wolverines and countless birds? The payoff doesn’t end there; nights are spent in luxury at North Knife Lake Lodge and at cozy Caribou Camp on Schmok Lake.
Wander through Polar Bear Country, ON
From camping on the tundra in Polar Bear Provincial Park to a stay at the lovely Cree Village Ecolodge on Moose Factory Island, this is one of those epic journeys in Canada’s untapped playland, Northern Ontario. Spend entire days searching for eagles, pelicans, beluga whales, caribou and polar bears while mixing with Cree natives and ambling through 17th-century Hudson’s Bay outposts.
Do it all at Maritime Adventure Park, QC
Rappel down a rock face, teeter along a via ferrata, zoom along a zipline and cross a glacial lake on a mayak—all in one day. Spend your nights in a rustic prospector tent or bunk down in Mongolian-style yurts just east of the Baie-Comeau area.
Paddle the Bay of Fundy, NB
Come feel the pulse of planet Earth at the Bay of Fundy, where the world’s highest tides rise as much as 15 m (50 ft) twice a day. That’s 100 billion tons of sea water whooshing in and out of the bay in one cycle. www.bayoffundytourism.com
Cycle rugged Cape Breton, NS
You gotta see for yourself this exquisitely placed island (a moss-shrouded chunk at the top of Nova Scotia) the right way: by bike, around the Cabot Trail. This swoopy 298-km (185-mi) road-ride with burly coastal views and lung-busting climbs is littered with funky B&Bs, fishing shacks, Acadian villages and sleepy bays that’ll make you long for a hammock or a sea kayak. They have those, too.
Be a fisher at Tranquility Cove Adventures, PEI
This is the real deal. Join lobster fisherman Perry Gotell and head for the high seas to pull in lobster and crab traps, plus do a bit of deep sea fishin’. Look for seals after you dig for clams, then steam your haul on a lonely dip of beach. www.tranquilitycoveadventures.com/
Hike the East Coast Trail, NL
Grab your last pint and lace up your hiking boots before leaving St. John’s harbour for a 220-km (137-mi) trek south to Cappahayden. Follow the scenic shores of the Avalon Peninsula over a series of 18 paths that zigzag in and out of maritime wilderness. Don’t be surprised if you see a Hobbit—it’s looks and feels like a magical world here.
Hopewell Rocks and the Bay of Fundy